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I recently sent an Email to WotC_Josh, that I didn't want to post publicly with all of the beta testers, but which I feel comfortable sharing with the other VT Sages.  As I read over it now, I wish I had been a little bit less emotional in some of my repsonses, but the core message remains as true now as it was last week.

Josh-

I didn't want to post this feedback publicly, but I have some reactions to your thread listing the changes coming to the vt beta program.

1. non-subscribers
I think it would be a very good idea to take all of the non-subscribers and give them a complimentary 1-month subscription as a thank-you. If you can take active subscribers and extend their subscription by a free month as well, that would be even better.

2. Adventure Export
Are you guys out of your gourd?  Why on earth would you turn this off?  You already have severe handicaps from the lack of ability to import custom tokens and tiles. This is the same kind of decision that caused super-nerd-rage over the character builder going online with only half of its normal features available.

I'm guessing that the reason for this is because wotc wants to sell adventure packs, and doesn't know how to lock them down so that only people who purchased them can use them, right?  This is a huge mistake.  Please ask the decision makers to reconsider.

3. Open Beta
Fantastic news here.  Glad we are opening up the gates.  I'd like to start running more adventures, and it will be nice to have a larger audience to participate.  My concern is that some of them will see the gaps.  Are you guys prepared for the criticism that will come?  I've noticed a tendency for WotC to jerk at the knees when this happens.  Also, I'm trying hard to restrain myself from thinking that WotC wants to push this out prematurely to try and get some cash flow coming in.  I'm hopeful you can set my mind at ease about that.

Thanks for your consideration.

-Mark K.
(AsmodeusLore)
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Adventure Export. That's a tough one. It may be one that they can't really discuss.

I wonder if the following is going on:

  1. At a simple level, desire to control. If WotC is the only one offering you a game, then you buy theirs. Keep competition down.

  2. IP. If someone shares an adventure containing a map made of WotC tiles, Elminster, five monsters, and a PC that uses various powers from several sourcebooks... are they giving away any intellectual property? Does it count as saying people can freely distribute IP and hurt them legally?

  3. Piracy. Could an adventure be created that distributes all of book x to someone that parses the format and creates a legible file?

  4. Piracy of the adventure itself. One person purchases Dungeon adventure xyz, then it is on torrent sites.

Item 1 is the weakest. Content should stand on its own merit and protections like that won't make WotC content great. WotC content will be great because it is the easiest (purchase an adventure and ready to play) and because it will be advertised well (read Dungeon, click to buy/download the adventure). Also, the standard of quality should be better to stand up vs. others you cannot trust. Having a few standout DMs make their own well-regarded content should not be a real threat.

Item 2 mirrors what we see with organized play campaigns. I don't have an answer outside of setting up some sort of agreement around distribution that protects rights but still allows for the power of the format.

Item 3 is just a guess based on the CB and MB changes. I suspect something can be done here without preventing export/import and I would think that even if it happens it is not a biggie. The content is likely out in the wild anyway and this would be unlikely to be a big deal.

Item 4 could perhaps require at least one person on the account to have purchased the adventure, with your account tracking that (at worst, a code).

Regardless, my overall view is that preventing export/import is a bad idea. The benefits of protection will likely hurt WotC more than help it. But, I am not entirely surprised to see caution on their part. It is in line with their previous steps.

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Alpha,

2. If you make an adventure of your own using WotC tile sets or some other designer's tile sets, the adventure is your intellectual property. If you try to pass of the tiles themselves as yours, you are pirating WotC's or the other designer's intellectual property.

3. If piracy was their biggest issue, then they would not publish anything. All somebody has to do is buy a module then scan its contents on to their computer and save it to a web site for others to download.
Thou art a lumpish folly-fallen miscreant! Shakespear
Alpha,

2. If you make an adventure of your own using WotC tile sets or some other designer's tile sets, the adventure is your intellectual property. If you try to pass of the tiles themselves as yours, you are pirating WotC's or the other designer's intellectual property.


Not quite. The issue is with using their trademarks and IP. Beholder, Elminster... you can't distribute adventures with those names because they own that content.

For example, the organized play campaign for which I am an admin cannot distribute adventures.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).